Graffiti wars break out over North Laine Starbucks mural

Posted On 30 Nov 2016 at 11:12 am

A huge mural commissioned by Starbucks in Brighton’s North Laine has been repeatedly defaced by street artists apparently angry at the multinational company’s appropriation of their space.

by Anna Clark

Rats and expletives painted over the first Starbucks mural. Photo by Anna Clark

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The mural, a replica of the coffee chain’s red winter cups design, has been painted on a wall in Trafalgar Lane, which is a well known space for local graffiti artists to draw murals.

It first appeared last week, but by Friday, it had been painted over, the Starbucks logo defaced, expletives scrawled on it, and rats drinking coffee painted along the bottom.

It was quickly repainted with another Starbucks cup design, but within hours more scrawls had appeared, with the logo again covered with paint splats.

The second mural, painted on Friday. Photo by Anna Clark

The second mural, painted on Friday. Photo by Anna Clark


When asked what they thought about the damage inflicted on the murals, Starbucks UK responded: “This year our red cups have been designed by customers all over the world. To celebrate their individuality and spread Christmas cheer in communities close to where we have stores, local artists have painted red cup wall murals in five UK cities.”

A spokeswoman also said that Starbucks had an agreement with the landlord to paint the mural on the side of the building.

Commercial murals in Brighton and Hove generally also require advertising consent from the city council, which has required those without to be painted over in the past, including the Taste of Sahara and Pie Society in Western Road. The latter remains as the company which painted it went bust.

No applications for advertising consent have been made for the property in question, nor for any address in Trafalgar Lane.

However, a spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove City Council said this mural, which carries the Starbucks logo, Twitter account and a marketing hashtag, did not require advertising consent.

Paint splats over the second Starbucks logo which appeared over the weekend. Photo by Anna Clark

Paint splats over the second Starbucks logo which appeared over the weekend


Earlier this year two Brighton artists were fined by the city council’s new environmental enforcement officers for painting a mural a few metres away from this in Trafalgar Lane because they had not asked the owner of the wall.

In 2008, Starbucks opened a branch in St James’s Street without planning permission, leading to weekly demonstrations outside it by residents angry at its flouting of local regulations. The branch was eventually granted permission in 2009.

  1. Paul Smith Reply

    As a local business owner just down the road from this grotesque advert I applaud the graffiti artist that stood upto Starbucks I think we should all run Starbucks out of town after all this is an area for local independent business and shame on the landlord who sold there soul to the devil.
    Australia is well known for having a strong cafe culture and when Starbucks started opening stores over there people voted with there feet causing Starbucks to retract a national rollout. Power to the people vote with your feet and to be honest with so many great independent coffee shops why do we need Starbucks? Starbucks can’t shout about there awful unethical beverage they have to try and sell a paper cup instead that is bad for the environment. Let them have Churchill square but not the heart and soul of Brighton. The North laine independent bohemian shopping ecperrince is why thousands of people flock to Brighton every week so please let’s keep it an area for possibilities and to promote better ethical business. Coffee is the second highest traded commodity on earth and Starbucks is responsible for buying the majority this makes Starbucks like an oil company trying to extract huge volumes for as little cost as possible which intern exploits the people in poor countries not to mention the environmental and financial impact they have as they cleverly avoid paying huge tax bills all made possible with clever marketing that pulls the wool over the publics eyes. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE CORRUPTION BRITAIN!!

  2. David Holmes Reply

    I can’t help but feel this article is a little one-sided. I don’t drink Starbucks on principle and I think that’s the right approach to take. As a retired police officer I don’t condone criminal damage and I feel that this article is somewhat fostering that that is acceptable.

    Its silly to write no planning application was made then no planning consent was required. They also didn’t build a space ship and no space ship was required (hyperbole for proof of point).

    Its also silly to compare a legal mural with permission with the story of two Brighton artists being fined for painting without permission.

    I do agree with Paul about voting with your feet.

  3. Kris Reply

    To the person (ex police officer) above: unfortunately inflicting ‘criminal damage’ is just about the only way people have a voice in today’s corrupt corporate climate. Time and time again, artistic, creative and proud communities are invaded and destroyed by these greedy, soulless, cheapsuit wearing shills. Voting with your feet or wallet is all well and good, but once none of the local businesses can afford the rent (I’m looking at you Shorditch) shall we all be forced to sip crappuccino from Starbuck’s outstretched hand, like the ungrateful serfs and plebs that we are?

    Take your disgraceful, boardroom born marketing methods elsewhere please.

  4. Dan Reply

    Kris, what a ridiculous statement to make, “we are artistic and therefore above the law in order to be heard”? I am in agreement with the artists whom did this, however people like yourself who condone criminal behaviour in the name of creativeness do not help the cause in which the street artists are trying to channel.

  5. vikki Reply

    Starbucks made a generous donation to http://amazebrighton.org.uk/ after the fundraiser commented taht they “stolen” the colour matching idea from the Hanover colour matiching calendar she’d produce to fund raise for amaze.

    • C Reply

      Donating meagre amounts of money & unsold food to charity is all still tedious marketing.

  6. Kris Reply

    Oh get a grip Dan, I’m hardly suggesting people take to the street with pitchforks and flaming torches. People like you are why nothing ever gets done any more. I presume you work for Starbucks anyway, but if not I suggest you pop over to the one on western road and enjoy a well deserved twataccino.

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